Posts Tagged 'social media'

5 Tips for Companies Entering Social Media

By Tim Baker

We’ve approached the time where consumers are expecting companies and brands to have a social media presence. Not having a Facebook page, Twitter account, company blog or other direct access to consumers is a sign of a brand that is out of touch. Fortunately, more and more business are wising up and adopting social networking every day.

Entering the social web can be a scary undertaking for a business; many are afraid they will “do it wrong,” not have the time to keep it up, or do more harm than good. Luckily, following these simple tips and a little common sense is all a company needs to begin successfully engaging with potential and existing customers.

Choose Your Goals
As a business, your number one goal is simple: to make money. Why are you interested in social media? Are you hoping to use it as a customer service vehicle? Promote your business online? Do you want to put a human face on your brand? Whatever your reason is, stick to it. In fact, a brand that is successful in social media is a mixture of all of these.

Start Small
There are countless social media outlets on the web, from the major players (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) to the smallest Ning communities. Just because they exist doesn’t mean you need to be there. Pick one venue to start with and begin to build up your community. Getting involved in social media doesn’t mean going all-in from day one.

Don’t Just Exist
A huge mistake brands make when entering the world of social media is a stagnant presence.” Simply having a blog, Facebook page, Twitter account or other social networking profile that just sits there and collects digital dust can actually be worse than having nothing at all. Stagnant blogs and profiles make a company look lazy and engagements from customers that fall on deaf ears are helping nobody.

It’s Not All About You
Approach social networking the same way you would a first date. Don’t spend the entire time talking about yourself. There’s a high likelihood that your followers already know what you do, so talking about how great you are all the time will do nothing but turn your customers away.

What should you say? Listen to what people are saying to and about your company and engage with them. Did they post a tweet or blog post about how much they love your establishment? Thank them for coming and ask them if there’s anything they’d like to see you do differently. The only thing people like in social media more than hearing themselves talk is knowing that people are listening.

Don’t Ignore the Bad Stuff
There may be people that make disparaging comments about your company. Again, listen to what they have to say and engage with them if you feel there’s a genuine opportunity for you to help or remedy the situation. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve witnessed someone airing their frustration with a brand do a complete 180º when that brand engages them with an honest attempt to offer assistance. We’re all human and we just want to know people care.

Social media is not as scary as it seems. The internet culture moves so fast that what’s the talk of the town on Monday is forgotten by Wednesday. Don’t be afraid that you’re going to flush the years of your blood, sweat and tears down the drain with one tweet. Just put a face and a name to your brand, show people that you’re more than just a logo and treat them with respect. The rest will come with a little common sense, which you most likely have if you’re running a somewhat successful business in the first place.


Foursquare: The Game That’s a Real-Game Changer

One of the hottest trends in social media is the growth of location-aware mobile applications. With the immense popularity of the iPhone, BlackBerry and Android-powered mobile devices, software developers are pushing the mobile platform forward faster than any segment of consumer electronics.

Foursquare LogoOf all the location-aware mobile applications, Foursquare is perhaps the most exciting. Foursquare was created by Dennis Crowley and Neveen Selvadurai and launched earlier this year. Crowley’s previous project, Dodgeball, was one of the pioneering social networking services for mobile devices. Dodgeball required users to text their location into the service and they would be instantly notified of friends, other Dodgeball users and points of interest all in their close vicinity. Dodgeball was purchased by Google and has since morphed into Google Latitude, Google’s up-and-coming foray into location-aware social networking still in its infancy.

Foursquare takes the basic principles behind Dodgeball but presents it in a much more robust and user-friendly way. Rather than text in one’s location, Foursquare users simply fire up the mobile application on their device and it utilizes the phone’s GPS technology and data network to presents them with a list of venues near their current location. The user selects their location from the list (or adds it if it’s not currently in the system) and they are “checked in.” By connecting to Twitter and Facebook, users can instantly and automatically alert their social networks of their location.

Foursquare doesn’t end there; Crowley and Neveen have implemented an ingenious reward system into their applications that not only encourages repeat use of the applications, but truly bridges that gap from “virtual world” to “real world.” Based on the city one is in, Foursquare users can unlocked badges basedjavascript:; on their check-ins. For example, New Yorker’s that check into a venue above 59th Street can unlock the “Far Far Away” badge. Check in to three karaoke venues unlocks you the “Don’t Stop Believin'” badge while checking in at a gym venue 10 times or more in 30 days earns you the “Gym Rat” badge.


Perhaps the most innovative feature built into Foursquare is the “Mayor” system. Users that check into a venue with the most frequency in a set period of time are tagged as the mayor of that particular venue. Aside from the bragging rights that come along with being the mayor, more and more locations are taking Foursquare off the mobile devices and into the real world by rewarding mayors with a variety of prizes. Restaurants are offering free food to the Foursquare mayor while some bars have been known to give free drinks to their respective mayors.

Foursquare users also have the option to leave a tip for others at the venue they are checked into. Whether it’s raving about a particular restaurant’s salmon dish or urging others to try the Long Island Iced Tea, Foursquare’s system is posing a real threat to popular social review services like Yelp and CitySearch.

Crowley and Selvadurai have created a system that not only is immensely fun for its users, but allows local businesses to market themselves leveraging social media in a whole new way. Whether this was truly intended or is simply a side-effect of the game’s popularity, there’s no denying that Foursquare is creating a new level of interaction between businesses and customers that is sure to be a growing trend in 2010 and beyond.

The Bacon Explosion: Wielding Social’s Power

By Valerie Zlotsky

What do you get when you combine 400,000 internet users, a net-savvy marketer, 2 lbs of bacon and 2 lbs of sausage?  Whatever you get, it certainly won’t get you too many kosher friends, that’s for sure.  What it will do however, is provide an incredibly poignant study on the massive power of social networks, as well as illustrate the importance of intelligently harnessing that power.  Oh, and it will also get you a deliriously fatty dish called the Bacon Explosion.

I first read about the Bacon Explosion in an article in the New York Times.  Now usually, a story’s viral life cycle is just beginning when a national publication picks it up.  People read about it, talk about it and spread it around.  In this case however, the article was just a cherry on top of the 5,000 calorie recipe’s viral life.

The Bacon Explosion (its full name is “Bacon Explosion: the BBQ recipe of all recipes”) is a pork lover’s dream-come-true; the recipe calls for making a basket out of bacon, wrapping sausage in that basket, layering cooked bacon in between, for added crunch and then slathering the whole football sized pork-fest with BBQ sauce.  But this outrageous recipe isn’t the story here.  The real story is how the creators of this recipe, two BBQ experts and an internet marketer  trying to promote their website (, used social networks to spread the recipe around so much that it became an online sensation.

The Bacon Explosion was originally a challenge for the BBQ experts, sent via a Twitter message.  After creating the recipe, the team posted it on their website and sent out twitter messages to 1,200 of their followers.  They also posted links on various other social networks, like StumbleUpon, a site which attempts to help users navigate towards internet content that they might find interesting.  Within two days of posting the recipe, 27,000 users had visited the site.

“The Bacon Explosion posting has since been viewed about 390,000 times. It first found a following among barbecue fans, but quickly spread to sites run by outdoor enthusiasts, off-roaders and hunters. (Several proposed venison-sausage versions.) It also got mentions on the Web site of Air America, the liberal radio network, and National Review, the conservative magazine.  Jonah Goldberg at wrote, “There must be a reason one reader after another sends me this every couple hours.”

After gaining so much popularity, the New York Times picked up the story, which I read:

Now, I’m writing this blog, spreading the word even more.  No doubt, readers of this blog will want to see what this meaty monstrosity looks like and will visit the BBQ site.  When you do visit , you’ll note that a link to the recipe is front and center, prominently displayed underneath the NYT logo, thus providing users with a brilliantly smooth user experience.

I should note that the BBQ website relies solely on advertising revenue to operate.  I am sure the 400k+ increase in traffic and nation-wide coverage has given the BBQ team some leverage in ad sales negotiations.  And to think, all of it started with a great recipe idea and a well thought-out social networking campaign.

In a cruel twist of irony, this blog was written by a non-pork consuming Jew.  So, if any brave carnivorous souls out there have tried making the Bacon Explosion, please do share your thoughts right here on our blog!!

Social Media: “Can You Hear Me Now?”

Right now thousands of live, passionate and authentic conversations are taking place all around you that impact your company’s brand image and revenue – both positively and negatively.

Isn’t it time you got off the sidelines and into the game to help shape and facilitate these customer dialogues?

Until recently, the majority of our relationships and conversations have been influenced by geography. Since relationships are contingent upon regular communication of thoughts and emotions, this makes perfect sense.

Enter social media.

While the individuals you regularly hang out with are influenced by geography, “social media” applications rapidly expand the number of individuals with whom we develop relationships with and establish trust. It is now easier than ever to locate and associate with others who share our passion for the arts, sports, music, video games, ideology, watching videos of people slipping and falling, etc.

Yes, today’s consumer trusts total strangers and values his/her opinions and experiences with products and services.

As marketers, we have the opportunity to drive change within our companies.
All public touch points, such as: advertising, public relations, online marketing, customer service, media buying and social media impact the brand, reputation and revenue.  Brands aren’t defined by campaigns, but rather by consumer ecosystems.

Welcome to the present, where every consumer now has a soapbox to share his/her opinions and experiences with the world; and listening to these conversations is a requirement for every company.

Take the presidential election as case in point. The “I’ve got a crush on Obama” video wasn’t made by the Obama campaign, yet it has garnered more than 9.5 million views. Thirty-five percent of Americans have watched political ads and videos online which is three times more than in 2004.

The fact is people want to communicate and need to communicate – it’s in our DNA. And technology allows us to harness these consumer conversations as time for face-to-face communications become scarcer.  Whether it is social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook, review sites like or group bookmarking sites like Delicious; we now feel more connected to our friends, family and “Joe the Plumber” via social mediums.

How can you lace up your shoes and check into the game?

First, embrace the concept that communication between your company and its customers is a two-way conversation – not a monologue.  Consumers want more than a boilerplate response or canned talking points. They want insight. They want to know you are accessible and that you care.

Next, decide whether you are in listen mode or proactive mode. Listen mode entails monitoring a vast array of online sources to determine where and when your brand (as well as your competitor’s brands) is being discussed, and analyzing the sentiment, tone and influence of those comments to improve your company image and operations.

Listening is commonly referred to as Conversation MiningTM, and includes a program where members of your staff (or agency partner) will jump into social media conversations to put out fires and/or provide strategic counsel.

Proactive mode takes the program from observer to active participant by creating social media content to help start and facilitate (not just react to) conversations between consumers and your company. Blogging, creating videos, developing a Facebook widget, and encouraging customer reviews are a few ways to get started.

Ultimately, if you don’t reach out and become part of the online conversation about your brand, the social media community will define the brand’s attributes without your input. For many companies, simply participating, responding, and acknowledging the conversation—and making real efforts to change—will not only bolster the company’s reputation but also will assist in finding new ambassadors to say great things about the brand.

Your customers are speaking, and they are asking: “Can you hear me now?”

This is your chance to get into the game.

Let’s get started!

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